Skiing and snowboarding are one of those activities that we find incredibly fun without realizing that they can be in fact biomechanically taxing and dangerous activities. Practice of these sports (recreationally or competitively) can lead to accidents and sustained injuries ranging from relatively mild (e.g. sprains and strains) to life threatening (e.g. traumatic brain injury and spinal cord damage). This is a fact that our expert at the NBI has experienced first-hand. NBI’s skiing and snowboarding expert has over 10 years of competitive skiing experience, over a thousand days spent on mountains around the world and a master’s in biomechanics. Through a combination of the academically taught knowledge of biomechanics, including physics, anatomy and mechanisms of injuries of the human body as well as first-hand experience gained from time spent interacting with this specific environment, our expert has developed an in-depth knowledge and awareness with regards to the potential safety issues, injuries and their mechanisms related to winter sports.
The cause of skiing and snowboarding accidents can be broadly classified in two categories: negligence or product malfunction. A skier cuts another skier off at a great speed because he failed to control his trajectory, causing him to lose balance, fall and sustain a shoulder fracture? Potential negligence. A skier goes down a run, falls, the bindings do not release, leaving the skis attached to the skier who sustains a torn ACL? Potential product malfunction.
Negligence of a skier or snowboarder may result in accidents such as collisions with other skiers, snowboarders, or objects. Collisions often occur when skiers exhibit careless or reckless behavior and do not comply with the National Ski Areas Association’s Responsibility Code. This may include failure to control speed or trajectory. Of note, falls or collisions with objects such as trees, signs, or barriers may be due to poor maintenance, marking or design within the ski resort. Thus, an evaluation of the terrain, visibility and clarity of signs is commonly conducted as part of a negligence evaluation. Negligence evaluations commonly include scene inspection, 3d scans of the environment, simulations, evaluation of skiing codes, and available resort signs and instructions.
Product malfunction or defective product related injuries during skiing commonly involve alpine release bindings or helmets. Binding malfunction may result in failure to release the bindings when the skier expects them to open. Accordingly, common injuries associated with such malfunction are torn ACL as a results of high torques experienced at the knee. On the other hand, faulty helmets are often the cause of injuries sustained to the head/brain. Other cases of defective products in skiing include broken googles or ski poles. In these instances, evaluation of the equipment condition and product testing plays a major role in the process during which experts develop opinions on questions relating to liability and potential for injury.
In most cases of winter sports accident, multidisciplinary and comprehensive collaboration is necessary between experts. Namely, accident reconstruction, biomechanics and human factors experts collaborate on investigation of the potential for injury and/or product liability. NBI’s skiing and snowboarding product liability analyses include investigations of helmets, goggles, poles, bindings, and skis/boards. Our rigorous testing allows for a determination of production function or malfunction.